Pittsburgh Technical Institute (PTI) has been helping students launch a new career path with a post-secondary degree for over 70 years. PTI prides themselves on being attuned to the job market, keeping its curriculum current to ensure their students are successful after graduation.
As the school evolved, their communications stack stayed the same, costing PTI time and money. Using Twilio, PTI overhauled their SIP-based call center and built out a live chat feature integrated with their CRM with ease. And it all started with a school art show.
Planting A Seed
In 2012, William Showers, the Director of Information Technology at PTI, wanted to build an SMS voting service for an art-show PTI put on. He did some googling and found his way to the Twilio SMS API docs. Shortly after, he had an app up and running. A seed was planted.
If students, parents, or PTI staff had a question, they could dial into PTI’s call center to get an answer. PTI was using a SIP Trunking vendor to power the call center. The vendor PTI had in place didn’t allow PTI to scale their communications hub the way they needed to. When PTI wanted to add a new number for a new building on campus, they had to call their vendor, submit a proposal, and wait up to a week for confirmation. The vendor couldn’t move at the pace of PTI, so they went looking for other providers in 2015.
When Showers shopped for providers, he remembered the art show back in 2012. He went back to the Twilio docs, this time perusing through the SIP documentation, and found what PTI needed.
Choosing Twilio Elastic SIP Trunking
“All of the provisioning with our previous vendor was a phone call,” said Showers. “Now it’s all in the Twilio portal. If I need another 800 number for a marketing campaign, I can get it in the portal. It’s grab and go. We used to wait a week.”
PTI’s previous vendor discontinued their dedicated SIP trunk and pushed their traffic over a public internet connection. This not only caused latency problems for PTI, it was a security issue as well. They wanted privacy in addition to scale, and a guarantee against latency. Now PTI uses a dedicated Twilio SIP trunk that ensures they have a reliable connection, scale and security.
PTI recently launched a feature they couldn’t reliably ship before Twilio. They were one of the first companies to sign-up for E-911 when it launched in public beta. In the event of an emergency, there’s no room for latency. There are strict guidelines around the availability requirements when implementing E-911. PTI didn’t feel comfortable building out the feature until they had a reliable provider.
Twilio’s E-911 offering gives PTI the ability to address emergency calls from anywhere on campus more intelligently and faster than before. When a student makes an emergency call from a phone on PTI’s campus, the emergency dispatcher sees where the call is coming from because Twilio passes that information to the agent programmatically. This saves invaluable time during emergencies where time is always of the essence.
“Twilio is much more stable than our previous provider. It’s been rock solid since day one and our bill has dropped it’s probably a third of what it was,” says Showers
Now PTI uses Twilio’s Elastic SIP Trunking to power their Asterix and .NET based call center. It only took two days for PTI’s team to push all the traffic to Twilio from 500 phones spanning from the main academic building to the dorms.
Since the switch PTI, has had extra time and funding to build new communications solutions for PTI.
Integrating Twilio SMS With An Internal CRM
When you’re serving a student body, you want to meet them where they feel comfortable communicating. For PTI, and many other schools, that place is in the body of a text message.
“The audience we serve is a texting audience, a social media audience, a mobile audience – we want to make sure we can serve them,” says Bart Levitt, Vice President of Marketing at PTI.
Now PTI has a way to serve their students through Twilio-SMS live chat. After building out their SIP integration, PTI integrated their internal CRM with Twilio’s chat client to enable staff to answer questions that students text in, straight from their browser.
PTI has revolutionized the way they communicate on and off campus with students, teachers, and parents alike. Today, they have a new call center and chat client feature. Back in 2012, that was something they couldn’t conceive of. All it took was a school art-show to open up the door of innovation for PTI. Now they’ve stepped through it.